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Monday, January 23, 2012

RevGalBookPals: Writing to God -- Kid's Edition

Do you have a young person in your family or faith community who asks you, "How do I pray?" Ring member Rachel Hackenberg's wonderful new book, Writing to God -- Kids' Edition, is a great resource for exploring prayer at a late-elementary to middle-school level.

Rachel is also the author of Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying with My Pen, a guide to praying during Lent.

In the Kids' Edition, Rachel brings creative suggestions and guidance for writing prayers to a kid's level. She explores ways to pray by writing about six Ideas: things you experience with all five senses, by writing about your feelings, Bible verses, nature, ordinary things that happen in life, trying new words and pictures for God and telling God thank you. She explores each Idea with a variety of possibilities for exploration, including sample prayers, and the book will include open space to be used for writing prayers.

The book begins conversationally:

Hi! My name is Rachel.

            When I was a girl, I wasn’t sure how to pray. Should I use fancy church words? Should I put my hands together and close my eyes? (Closing my eyes usually put me to sleep.) Should I pray for the whole entire world? And how could I pray for the whole entire world if I didn’t know the name of every person . . . or the name of every place and every plant and every animal?

Her voice in writing for children is very natural and invitational. She assures children that you can pray, or write prayers, wherever you are.

Here's a sample from the section on praying with your sense of smell:

These are some of the things that I am thankful for smelling, God:
chocolate cookies baking in the oven
a hamster cage that needs to be cleaned
the kind-of-good, kind-of-stinky smell of mud after rain
smoke from a campfire
This list doesn’t look like a prayer, but I thank God for the sense of smell to experience the odors of life!
Here's another, from the section on Bible verses:
John 11:35 is one of the shortest verses in the Bible. It just says, “Jesus cried.” Have you ever thought about Jesus crying? In John 11:35, Jesus cries because his friend Lazarus has died, and he cries because he’s sad to see Mary and Martha crying. God gets sad when people are hurting or crying . . . and God hears us when we’re sad. Write to God about crying.
I don’t often cry in front of other people. One day I wrote this prayer after I closed my bedroom door:
Jesus, do you hear me crying
when I hide my tears in the pillow?

Elene (age 5) prays:
Dear God, You know how I almost fell off my bike the other day? Remember when I was riding home from Chris’s house? It was getting dark
so I rode my bike very fast to get home. Did you know how scared
I was? Really scared! So scared I was crying. Love, Elene

The sample prayers from children are great, although Rachel's prayers are also at a great level for encouraging kids to write their own.

Because the book is still in the pre-order phase, I have only seen illustrations for the introduction. They show children of a variety of cultural backgrounds and ages, as well as common images from a child's life, and appear to be very accessible. I can't wait to see the actual book! Rachel says, "The official release date for the book is in March, but in fact Paraclete Press hopes to have the finished product in-hand by the end of January so that it can be in bookstores and online in time for Lent."

(Paraclete Press and Rachel Hackenberg provided RevGalBlogPals with a manuscript and PDF of this soon-to-be-published book for purposes of review. There was no promise of a particular outcome!)


  1. Martha, thanks for the review. Gonna order for the oldest boy's Easter.

    As a side note, enjoying exploring what Paraclete Press has to offer.

  2. Martha, thank you for this review. Our congregation has a special service for children (slightly younger than this book's audience), so I'm always looking for things to adapt and to recommend to parents. This looks great.

  3. Thank you, Martha, and thank you, Rachel. I am preordering right now!

  4. ooh, Martha, thank you. Will pass this along as widely as possible!!!

  5. This looks wonderful! Thanks for the review.


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